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Roman recipes
Aliter betas elixas
(Pickled Beets)

by Apicius, III, XI, 2

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The Roman Cookery of Apicius
AFAIK, this recipe comes from Edwards and was inserted by original site author (I will say again to PLEASE buy these author's books! By doing so, you will help support them — even for books that are older and might not sell as well anymore... These authors do not do this for money, they do it for love. Please support them!

Whilst the term "pickled beets" might conjure up something horrid to the modern mind, it was different then. As usual with the Roman culinary art, try it first before you judge. This recipe is made with Beets, raisins, coriander and cumin.

[[Note: After looking at this online with original text, I think somehow Edwards has two recipes combined?? Frak, I don't know, but it will bear more research]]

Original recipe: Concides porrum, coriandrum, cuminum, uvam passam, farinam et omnia in medullam mittes. Ligabis et ita inferes ex liquamine, oleo et aceto.

Ex sinapi, oleo modico et aceto bene inferuntur.

Translation: To make a dish of beets that will appeal to your taste1 slice the beets with leeks and crush coriander and cumin; add raisin wine boil all down to perfection: bind it, serve the beets separate from the broth, with oil and vinegar.

THEN: Cook the beets with mustard seed and serve them well pickled in a little oil and vinegar.


  • ½ lb. young WHOLE beets
  • 2 T. Mustard seed
  • Water
  • 1 c. White wine vinegar
  • ½c. Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • 1 c. UNCHLORINATED water


  • Put whole beets into a saucepan and cover with water.
  • Add mustard seed.
  • Cook until the beets can be pricked easily with a sherp point
  • Drain and slice the beets into jars.
  • Add mustard seed to each jar.
  • In a pot, mix vinegar with water. Heat and then pour over the sliced beets. Seal the pots
  • Serve in oil and vinegar dressing.
  • Alternatively, cook the beets as above and slice them into a bowl. Add olive oil and vinegar. Stir well. Chill and serve. Use only tender beets.
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